Before the widespread adoption of hops, many kinds of herbs, spices and roots made appearances in beer. Besides having a wonderful complexity and diversity of flavor, hops help beer keep safe to drink, creating create a bacteriostatic environment that works to keep Gram-positive bacteria at bay–essentially, hops are somewhat antiseptic. In earlier times (before everyone had rubber gloves, antibacterial soaps and easy access to sanitizing solutions), using natural products to help preserve food and drink was essential. But it’s not just hops that accomplish this–in fact, essential oils from many common plants can also perform similarly. Sage is one of those plants, and it has been used in brewing and cooking throughout history for both flavor and preservation. While sage is not commonly used in beer these days, a few breweries have highlighted its potential in recent times, including Deschutes, Epic and Dogfish Head.
Beer! It’s not just for drinking! You can have your beer in a salad, and feel satisfied and healthy too. This amber ale dijon vinaigrette is an extremely easy and unique salad dressing to throw together. Because of its malty notes, it works particularly well on wintery salad components–bitter greens, chicories or peppery arugula, etc. It also plays very nicely with roasted meats and nuts. Versatile and fun!
For us here in the seasonal northern hemisphere, certain foods and drinks appeal more or less at certain times. Salads in summer! Stew in the cold! It’s easy to assume that these preferences are simply “natural” and not question them at all. But some parts of the world sometimes depart or disagree with these “standards” of flavor. For example, a lot of the hot and humid tropics enjoy steamy bowls of soup, even in 100 degree weather. Why is this? And what about seasonality and beer preferences? Do yours change from December to June? Let’s delve a little deeper into what may influence differences in taste throughout the year.
Today I’m discussing techniques for helping customers (or friends) choose beer that they will love and enjoy. This is an underappreciated skill to have as a service professional (or a great skill to have as a colleague). I personally would love to see everyone behind the bar better able to quickly guide someone to the beer or beverage they’ll be excited to drink. It’s not always a simple task, especially at busy establishments or with the type of endless line of impatient drinkers typical of many brewery taproom settings, but it’s a big part of being more outwardly inclusive to everyone with an interest in beer. Because beer is for everyone.*
I’m not quite ready for fall, but I am ready for cake. Cake has no season. And I happen to have an overstock of barrel-aged beers in my cellar (I know, rough life), so here you have it: a bourbon barrel aged stout and apple cake. It’s a fluffy, homestyle just-enough-apple-topped cake richly flavored with sweet bourbony, barrely stout. This is a pretty killer way to have your beer and eat it too–especially since the recipe only calls for 1 cup of beer, leaving you plenty to sip alongside.
In this series I showcase craft beer under 5% ABV: because life is too short to just have one beer. All posts are uncompensated and opinions are my own.
What I’m drinking today
Caldera Lawnmower Lager is a 3.9% American lager brewed and canned in Ashland, Ore. It’s a lovely clear pour with a mild but crisp pilsner flavor and a light malt sweetness–nothing complicated here.
Hi! I’m Fawn, writer, photographer, editor, content developer, marketer, and general creative human. This is where I share stories and features centered around three of my favorite topics: food, fermentation, and foraging.
I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where we have no shortage of farms, hops, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and mountains and waters brimming with wild plants and animals. I hope to share my experience of this amazing place with you!